In the seventh of our Living With COVID-19 series, where we learn how fellow health workers are adapting and coping with the ongoing pandemic, we hear from Flavia Battiston, based in Lombardy, Italy. Flavia is a nurse and caring coordinator at Casa San Giuseppe, a care home, and one of our friends within our collaborative network. Her view continues the stories you will see from Lombardy over the coming weeks. Lombardy has been one of the hardest-hit regions in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her words here describe how she felt as a nurse and individual and what she experienced during the peak of the crisis in Italy.
"Nursing homes: the heart that never stopped beating in this pandemic."
In this difficult period, nursing homes have had to face so much and still suffer.
At the beginning of the pandemic, we found ourselves in a vortex, in which, it seems difficult to see an end. We were the "invisible", the hospitals were given the priority, not thinking that the nursing homes would suffer so much. We made do with what we could in front of a virus unknown to everyone that moved so silently that we could not stop it in time.
The gratitude that the elders have given us is great. They make you feel invincible when they thank you for even the slightest thing, but maybe that is everything to them. We accompany them to the end of their journey with all the dignity they deserve. We usually shake their hands, give them that extra caress, let them recall for the third time their love story with their husband or wife, make them laugh with some funny face or some jokes in a local dialect.
They have always trusted us, especially when they saw all of us covered from head to toe. They still recognized us by our eyes, the same eyes that have always cared for and pampered them and yet, they still trust us. The same eyes that are tired from the few hours of sleep behind us, eyes tired of crying, tired eyes that never gave up.
It's when you see them leave with the ambulance scared and resigned, between one short breath and another, that they say "If I don't come back, I know I'll see you in heaven" that a piece of you goes away with them. We are one big, yet little family made up of special people who do not work for the duty to do it but for the passion for our work. We have seen things that will mark us all our lives. We have faced exhausting situations and shifts for those who were screaming for help at the time. Covid-19 tested us all and yeah, it made us all sick. It made us cry for help because we did not want to be left alone. We had fear in our faces and a heart full of deep cuts. But I personally chose this, knowing that being a nurse involves that too. Even if it doesn't have to be like this, you get attached, you put your heart into it and this virus has taken so much away from us but has not made us lose the will to fight, TOGETHER.
I chose this job or maybe it chose me. I did not decide to be a nurse because it was a better career possibility. Like me, I see many colleagues with the same determination. I am proud to have chosen this profession yesterday, today, and always.